Now in Our Ninth Year of Organic Landscape Maintenance

Without much ado, Wellman Creek has moved into our ninth year with organic landscape care. We’re using the same two landscape companies we’ve used the past couple years: one for basic landscape maintenance, and the other for organic weed control and fertilization.

Wondering why yellow flags are posted if our lawn care is organic? Or what other green practices we’ve put in place at Wellman Creek? Or how we got here and where we might go? Check out this post.

Headed into Our Eighth Year of Organic Landscape Maintenance

This past Monday, the Wellman Creek HOA board voted unanimously to stick with our current landscape-maintenance strategies. Grateful to report that the herbicide indaziflam will not be used in non-turf areas throughout the complex, as had been proposed. Wellman Creek is now headed into its eighth year with organic landscape maintenance.

We’ll continue using the same two companies we currently use. Our main landscape company, now moving into its second year with us, takes care of mowing, blowing, trimming, irrigation, and organic non-turf weed control. For organic fertilization and weed control on our lawns, we use a company that specializes in that, now headed into its fourth year with us.

Many thanks to board members who decided to continue following this path. It can be difficult to do things differently from how they’re typically done. But board members have listened to the scientific evidence and the personal experiences of residents and chosen safer options for our community.

A Little History

The path to a workable organic program at Wellman Creek has been rocky—or, rather, weedy. For the first couple years, we used an organic landscape-maintenance company with knowledgeable ownership and a great vision. Unfortunately, they were unable to follow through (and are no longer in business). The next couple years, the conventional landscape company we were using at the time said they’d implement an organic program. However, they didn’t appear to do much to learn or to follow through either.

Three years ago, we started used the company that specializes in organic weed control and fertilization on lawns. Since then, the grass has been thicker, greener, and healthier. The landscape-maintenance company we started with a year ago has made improvements to the irrigation system, which has also helped keep the lawns greener.

Things to Consider

Here are a few things you might want to know, especially if you’re looking at Wellman Creek as a place to live in the future:

  • No one can promise that our landscaping will be organic forever. That depends on how the winds blow and how future HOA boards vote.
  • Individual residents sometimes use conventional pesticides. However, we don’t allow this in the community gardens.
  • The board has occasionally chosen to use conventional pesticides. For example, we’ve used them for yellow jackets (but not for paper wasps), for mysterious holes in one unit that might have been made by carpenter ants, and to get rid of a particular bed of Virginia creeper.
  • You may be wondering why you see yellow flags on the lawns if we use organic lawn-care products. Some of the ingredients have herbicidal activity, so the company is required by the state and the city to use the flags. Those ingredients are corn gluten meal, clove oil, and chelated iron. Regulations do not require posting for spot treatments, though. That’s why you don’t see flags when our main landscape company uses an organic herbicide call Avenger on rock beds etc. Its active ingredient is citrus oil.

Other Green Choices

The board has made other green decisions in the past as well:

  • Some time back, the board decided to slowly remove and replace ash trees rather than using insecticides to treat for emerald ash borer. This is big, given we originally had fifty-two ash trees.
  • An educational program about wasps, with the help of residents, has helped decrease our wasp populations. Yep, believe it or not, we used to have way more wasps here.
  • A few years back, we removed our original playground equipment, which was made of wood treated with arsenic. We replaced it with the current play set.

All in All

For seven years and now into an eighth, ninety-eight households have had a safer place to live where we can enjoy the outdoors all year long. Our visitors and passers-by on the creek path, including local kindergartners and people with chemical sensitivities, are safer too (pesticides can present a barrier to accessibility for some people). Our food gardens are free of pesticide drift, at least from our own HOA. Our complex is more desirable to many potential buyers and renters. It’s a record to be proud of.

If you’re working for alternatives to pesticides in your Boulder-area HOA, you might want to join the Facebook group Green HOA Boulder County Colorado. We’re exchanging information, discussing strategies, and sharing our experiences with local service providers. 

After Seven Years, a Return to Non-Organic Herbicide Use?

Wellman Creek has had organic landscape maintenance for seven years now—longer than most HOAs in Boulder County. Our grounds have been safe for kids, pets, and grown-ups to play and hang out on. We’ve even heard how desirable we are; several households decided to live here in part because we don’t routinely use conventional pesticides.

But an HOA board member is proposing that we consider use of a non-organic herbicide in 2019. The product’s active ingredient is indaziflam, a pre-emergent, meaning it prevents weeds from germinating. It would be applied in February or March to non-turf areas throughout the complex, such as rock beds, sidewalk cracks, and around landscaping plants. The product then remains active in the soil for months.

If you prefer we stick with organic strategies, see the end of this article for actions you can take between now and this Monday’s HOA board meeting. But first, a little info.

About the Product

  • Little research has been done on the health effects of indaziflam. It’s a newish product, initially registered in 2010. A search for indaziflam on PubMed (where you search for articles in medical journals) turned up only eleven articles, none of them on health effects.
  • Indaziflam persists in the soil for months. Marketing materials even mention its “longer residual control.” One source estimates the product’s soil half-life at 99 days, meaning half the product is still in the soil approximately 99 days after application, with a quarter remaining another 99 days after that, and so on. So the chemical would basically be in the soil until fall, if not longer.
  • What research there is suggests that indaziflam carries several health risks:
    • Neurotoxicity.
    • Endocrine disruption.
    • Kidney and/or liver toxicity.
    • Birth and development problems.
  • Indaziflam carries a risk of leaching and toxicity to aquatic organisms. And, of course, we’re right on the Wellman Canal. The product label says, “This product is toxic to fish, aquatic invertebrates, and plants. … This product is classified as having a high potential for reaching surface water via runoff for several months or more after application.”
  • The product label does not mention use on food crops. Community gardeners might be interested in this.
  • As with other pesticides, the product can drift and be tracked into people’s homes. Pesticides do not readily break down once inside.

What You Can Do

  • You can speak at the beginning of the HOA meeting this Monday, September 24, at 6 p.m. We meet at the Crestview Church, 3665 Madison, across the creek from Wellman Creek, in a room in the main church building that you enter via the patio next to the paved parking area. (We no longer meet in the separate, small house.)
  • You can write a message to the HOA board via our property manager. He’s at Please copy
  • If you’re on Nextdoor, you can comment on a post about this that will be up soon.

Let’s keep Wellman Creek a desirable haven for people who need to or choose to avoid pesticide exposure.

If We’re Organic, Why the Yellow Flags?

Some of you may have noticed the yellow pesticide-warning flags all over the complex today and wondered what the heck?! If you’re concerned about pesticides, don’t worry. Here’s the story.

The product applied today is OMRI-certified organic. But since it contains ingredients with herbicidal activity (clove oil and chelated iron), the company, Organo-Lawn, is legally required to post the yellow flags.

Organo-Lawn will apply one more product sometime this fall. That application may also involve yellow flags, since the corn gluten meal in it has herbicidal activity.

So sorry for the communication glitch. Since our main landscape company’s contract has not turned over to next year’s yet, it was a surprise to some of us to see Organo-Lawn here already. Even though the applications are organic, the board is looking into having notice posted ahead of time in the future. We may also want to post signs at the complex explaining why we’ll regularly be seeing yellow flags.

For more information about the product applied today, One Earth, click here. For more information about Synergy, the product to be applied later this season, click here. The plan we’ve signed up for with Organo-Lawn is its Ultimate One Earth Plan (not the Ultimate “Smarter” plan, which involves conventional herbicides). For more information, click here.

Organic for Another Year!

The HOA board decided this past week to try another year of organic landscape care, this time using a longtime local provider of organic lawn fertilization and weed control, Organo-Lawn. That company will work in conjunction with our current, conventional landscape-maintenance company, Brickman, which will continue to take care of tasks such as mowing, irrigation, and trimming. Part of the success of an organic program depends on how well watering and mowing are implemented, so we’ll be rooting for both companies!

The cost of the organic program will be higher than originally proposed. This is in part because the board decided to use the most intensive organic plan that Organo-Lawn offers. This should offer a quicker improvement to the lawns. As the soil and grass become more healthy in future years, we may need fewer treatments, which could decrease costs.

Organo-Lawn has specialized in doing organic lawn fertilization and weed control for about 18 years. We hope this experience will be helpful, and we’ve also heard some recent strong recommendations of the company and seen some thick, green grass that it cares for. If you’re familiar with the company, you’ll know that not all its programs are fully organic; however, Wellman Creek will be using a 100 percent organic plan.

Let’s hear it for healthy landscaping for another year!


Organo-Lawn services this City of Boulder lawn in front of the courthouse on the Pearl Street Mall, using the same plan that will be used at Wellman Creek. Results may vary, and organic care takes time to work, but this looks promising.

Landscape Proposal … for Tonight!

Will we stay organic at Wellman Creek this next year? Can we do so effectively and affordably? It looks like there’s a win-win-win solution that’s

  • Nontoxic.
  • Effective.
  • Reasonably priced.

A longtime organic lawn-care company has given Wellman Creek an estimate for organic fertilization and weed control. The company seems up-to-date with organic strategies, and it appears to have developed sophisticated products that are working. In fact, it sounds like the company may have found the Holy Grail of organic lawn care—a product that kills weeds and not grass.

A tour of lawns this company cares for turns up grass that’s nice looking–thick, tall, and green. Weeds tend not to stand out visually because of the healthy-looking grass.

The extra cost? Probably in the $2 per household per month range. A lot cheaper than cancer or infertility or Parkinson’s. 🙂

If we remain organic,

  • We stand out in Boulder as a community that hasn’t used pesticides for four years already.
  • Our community is more desirable to many Boulderites. The occupants of at least three households here chose Wellman Creek because we’ve eschewed pesticides. Being consistently organic can be good for our property values.
  • We avoid increasing residents’ risks of serious health issues, as recommended by major medical organizations and some of our own personal doctors. And we avoid worry and stress about those risks.
  • Our quality of life is better when we can enjoy the outdoors all year long.

Using this new company for fertilization and weed control, in combination with our existing landscape company, looks to be a win-win-win solution. People who don’t want to be exposed to pesticides aren’t. The price is right. We get experienced organic lawn care. Everybody’s happy! Would you be? Read on and let the board know … today!

This month’s HOA meeting is tonight, Tuesday, September 1, starting at 6 p.m. Neighbors can comment at the beginning of the meeting for three minutes each. You can also email the board in care of our property manager, Holly Dennis, at Please copy

The Wellman Creek HOA board meets at Crestview Church, behind our complex on the other side of the creek, 3665 Madison Ave. The meeting is actually in a small house next to the church. If you’re facing the church with your back to Madison Ave., the house is to the left of the church, connected to the church by a sidewalk. We have recently switched our meeting time to the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. And we’re in a different room than we were in previously. The current room is in the front of the house, facing the street. 

This Tuesday: Choice between Organic and Pesticide-Based Landscaping for the Next Year

This Tuesday, September 1, the Wellman Creek HOA board will be choosing our landscape company for the next year. Bids include two for conventional care, which would include regular pesticide use, and one for organic care. Questions remain about the cost of the organic program. Stay tuned here for details as things develop!

The meeting starts at 6 p.m., and residents can comment at the beginning of the meeting. You can also email the board in care of our property manager, Holly Dennis, at You can also copy or email

The Wellman Creek HOA board meets at Crestview Church, behind our complex on the other side of the creek, 3665 Madison Ave. The meeting is actually in a small house next to the church. If you’re facing the church with your back to Madison Ave., the house is to the left of the church, connected to the church by a sidewalk. Neighbors can comment for up to three minutes each at the beginning of the meeting. We have recently switched our meeting time to the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. And we’re in a different room than we were in previously. The current room is in the front of the house, facing the street. 

Board Votes for Herbicide Use This Fall and Use of Partially Synthetic Fertilizer This Season

A brief update for now; look for more here soon. The decision by the Wellman Creek HOA board last night, in a 4-1 vote, was to use a hybrid fertilizer this year–a combination of organic components and urea–and to apply a combination of 2,4-D and two other herbicides in early to mid-October.

The sudden decision has awakened a lot of energy around this issue at Wellman Creek. We welcome your involvement.

  • If you’d like to help keep Wellman Creek free of pesticides (and perhaps green in other ways), email to join our email group. A number of us will be discussing what actions to take.
  • If you just want to keep tabs on what’s happening (and even if you want to be more active as well), note the links over on the left where you can sign up for the Green Wellman Creek mailing list and/or notifications of posts to this blog. (Click on “The Latest” if you don’t see the links.)

Herbicide Use Suddenly Back on the Table at Wellman Creek | HOA Board Meets Tomorrow

Herbicide use on the lawns at Wellman Creek is back on the table, as of yesterday. At least one board member and perhaps more would like to see us spray for dandelions and other weeds as early as this spring. The herbicide used here in the most recent past has been 2,4-D, in case you want to look it up. Sometimes combinations of three herbicides are used. A decision will likely be made tomorrow/Tuesday at our next HOA board meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

If you prefer that we stay pesticide-free, now is the time to make your voice heard. Here’s how:

  • Best: Show up at the HOA meeting tomorrow/Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the church across the creek from Wellman Creek (details below). The beginning of the meeting is reserved for resident/homeowner comments. You don’t have to stay long, although your continued presence could be helpful. The board member most concerned about pesticide use has to arrive late to the meeting due to a child’s activity, so would be great if others were there to comment.
  • Great: Write your opinions to the board. You can send a quick email to (I can now access emails at that address again), and I’ll forward to the board.
  • Tell your neighbors. Know anyone at Wellman Creek who’s concerned about their own or their kids’ or pets’ exposure to pesticides? Let them know.

Some history:

  • We have not used pesticides in our landscape maintenance for three seasons now. This year would be the fourth year.
  • The first two years, we used a company that does organic landscape maintenance. However, the board did not feel they provided adequate service.
  • Last year and this year, we’re using a large commercial landscape company that contracts with a large conventional lawn-care company. Our representative at the landscape company is getting up to speed with organic lawn care. It’s unclear whether we’ve been receiving adequate organic care. It appears that not enough nutrients were applied to the lawn last year. The landscape company is beginning to take promising steps, such as a recent soil test.
  • Organic lawn care has been a bit more expensive, but not enough to raise dues at this point. It could be we could improve the organic program by raising dues a bit.
  • Other HOAs in Boulder are also struggling to find adequate organic lawn care, but some are beginning to have success.

Why stay organic?

  • More and more medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, are making statements recommending that people minimize their exposure to pesticides, For what several medical organizations have to say, click here.
  • Many people at Wellman Creek don’t want themselves or their children or pets to be exposed. Is it ethical to expose people who don’t want to be exposed, whose doctors may even recommend against it? Is the appearance of our lawns more important than prevention of conditions like cancer, reproductive issues, ADHD, autism, and Parkinson’s? Can we be patient as we struggle to get a good organic program going?
  • Avoiding pesticides can increase the desirability of Wellman Creek to potential buyers and renters. A lack of commitment to organic means we no longer stand out as a leader in this regard.

Thanks for making your views known!

The Wellman Creek HOA board meets at Crestview Church, behind our complex on the other side of the creek, 3665 Madison Ave. The meeting is actually in a small house next to the church. If you’re facing the church with your back to Madison Ave., the house is to the left of the church, connected to the church by a sidewalk. People can comment at the beginning of the meeting. We have recently switched our meeting time to the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. 

Organic Landscape Maintenance Again This Year—With a New Company

We’re going organic again this year! Last fall, the Wellman Creek HOA board decided not to continue with the organic landscape-maintenance company we had been using. Instead, the board voted to hire a large, conventional landscape company that our property manager has worked with.

But the HOA board asked the company we hired to get us a bid for the additional cost of implementing an organic program. And at this week’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to go with the organic bid, trying out organic for at least another year.

The representative of the landscape company rightly emphasized that continuing with organic is a long-term process. No organic substitutes exist to replace the conventional herbicides typically used in lawns. It takes timeyearsto build soil fertility and a healthy lawn that crowds out weeds.

But with more and more organizations warning of the health risks of pesticidesfrom the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to the Ontario College of Family Physicians and the President’s Cancer Panelit seems less and less OK to expose people to pesticides, especially when so many Wellman Creek residents don’t wish to be exposed. Kudos to board members for taking an ethical stance!

P.S. We’re looking for a new HOA board member, since one of our members is moving away. And we’ve decided to go with tree replacement over a period of timeinstead of pesticidesas a solution to the appearance of emerald ash borer in Boulder. More on both of these later!